Categories: CampingDestinations

Best Wildflower Hikes in Washington State

As spring unfolds across the Pacific Northwest, the natural areas of Washington State come alive with stunning wildflower displays. 

From the rugged peaks of the Cascades to the lush forests of Olympic National Park, wildflower season promises camping trips and hikes immersed in beautiful blooms. If you haven’t planned your trip yet, don’t worry! We rounded up the best hiking trails for wildflower viewing in Washington for you, including when to go and which wildflowers you can expect to see across the Evergreen State. 

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Brian Kinney

When do wildflowers bloom in Washington? 

The best time of year to see Washington’s wildflowers can range from April to September. Peak blooms start earlier in spring in the southern part of the state (at lower elevations), while the northern part of the state and areas with higher elevations see peak wildflower season start later in summer. 

No matter if you’re looking for the perfect Washington State spring hike or trying to plan a longer summer camping trip during peak blooms, it’s vital to learn more about the key environmental factors that affect wildflower season before you book your trip:

  • Precipitation: Wetter winters tend to lend themselves to more abundant spring wildflowers earlier in the season. 
  • Sunlight: Areas with more sunlight exposure tend to bloom earlier than shaded, north-facing slopes.
  • Temperature: Unseasonably warm spring months can cause wildflowers to bloom earlier, whereas late frosts can delay floral displays.
  • Elevations: Wildflowers tend to bloom later the higher up you go. This is because of colder temperatures and lingering snowpacks that melt later in the season.
  • Microclimates: Coastal areas and sheltered valleys can experience localized variations in bloom times due to differences in temperature, moisture, and sunlight.

To track the current bloom status across the state, resources like Northwest Wildflowers maps and Washington Trails Association (WTA) trip reports offer valuable, timely insights. Hikers also contribute to the WTA trail reports, providing first-hand observations about wildflower blooms, trail conditions, and other details. 

Top wildflower hikes in Washington 

From the Canadian border down to the Columbia River Gorge, this state has no shortage of great places to walk among the magic that is wildflower season. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a family looking for an easy wildflower walk, our curated list of Washington’s best wildflower hikes has something for everyone. 

Dog Mountain Loop, Columbia River Gorge

  • Route length: 6.9 miles
  • When to visit: Mid-April to mid-June

Starting in the south near the Columbia River Gorge (which marks the boundary between Washington and Oregon), campers can find Dog Mountain—home to one of the most popular Southwest Washington wildflower hikes. With a total elevation gain of about 2,800 feet and steep grades up to 25%, Dog Mountain Loop is a strenuous hike marked with wildflowers like yellow balsamroot, arrowleaf groundsel, beardtongue, and phlox. Pack layers! There are changes in the weather as you ascend this spring wildflower hiking route. 

Dalles Mountain Trail, Columbia River Gorge

  • Route length: 11.8 miles
  • When to visit: Late April to mid-May

The Dalles Mountain Trail near Dallesport, also by the Columbia River Gorge, offers another great challenge for experienced hikers. Dress accordingly and expect high winds at times. Hiking through the Dalles in the early morning hours is a unique treat full of beautiful sunrise views of the gorge and surrounding cliffs. At peak bloom, the area also offers glimpses of spring wildflowers, including Columbine flowers, balsamroot, broad-leaf lupine, and Columbia desert parsley. 

Twin Falls Trail, Snoqualmie Region

  • Route length: 2.4 miles
  • When to visit: Early May to early June

The Snoqualmie Region is part of the Central Cascade Mountain Range, east of Seattle. Here, campers can set out from the Twin Falls Trailhead, which is about 5 miles east of North Bend off I-90 at exit 34. The fun part about this hike is that campers are often able to see trillium and bleeding hearts right away as you exit the parking lot onto the trail. Continue down the trail across bridges, up stairs, and past waterfalls to see more flowers like Siberian spring beauty, Scouler’s corydalis, Western Lily of the Valley, and salmonberry flowers underfoot. Be careful—sections of the trail can get muddy or swampy, especially after rainfall. 

Photo by Hipcamp Photographer Virginia Pitts

Mount Spokane Loop Trail, Mount Spokane State Park

  • Route length: 11 miles
  • When to visit: Late June to mid-July

Nature lovers who are looking for the best wildflower hikes in Washington in late June will want to add Mount Spokane State Park’s Loop Trail to their list. Lupine, paintbrush, and bear grass commonly adorn the wildflower meadows of Mount Spokane in early summer. Experienced hikers recommend tackling this challenging trek in a counterclockwise direction—trail directions can get sparse around the ski runs. Mount Kit Carson is a highlight with great views from the top. 

Hurricane Hill Trail, Olympic National Park

  • Route length: 3.9 miles
  • When to visit: Late June to early August

The nearly 1-million-acre Olympic National Park sits on the Olympic Peninsula, west of Seattle across Puget Sound. Once in the park, head to Port Angeles to find the Hurricane Hill Trailhead just past the visitor center—you can find bathrooms here too. Expect a significant elevation change as you ascend the hillside on this 2-hour paved hike—the peak offers exceptional sunrise views. Look out for wild deer and marmots as well as wildflower-filled meadows of glacier lilies, yellow asters, pink paintbrush, and rock larkspur. 

NPS/A. Wotton

Reflection Lakes, Mount Rainier National Park

  • Route length: 2.8 miles
  • When to visit: July to early August

The Reflection Lakes wildflower hike in Mount Rainier National Park is in full bloom during early summer. To access this lake trail, park along Stevens Canyon Road, just south of Paradise. Pinnacle Peak uses the same trailhead, so arrive early in the day to secure a parking spot. Follow the loop trail around the lake in either direction, and look out for purple daisies, avalanche lilies, Pacific lupines, and Indian paintbrushes. 

Chain Lakes Loop Trail, Mount Baker

  • Route length: 6.5 miles
  • When to visit: July to mid-August

Due to its higher elevation and location around the slopes and hillsides of Mount Baker, the Chain Lakes Loop Trail offers a later peak wildflower season around the middle of summer. Start out on the loop from Artist Point, Austin Pass, or the Bagley Lakes Trailhead for this wildflower hike in the Northern Cascades. Then, take your time as you wind through alpine lakes and meadows highlighted by mountain heather, yellow aster, and lupine—all surrounded by expansive mountain views.

Round the Mountain Trail, Mount Adams

  • Route length: 16.8 miles
  • When to visit: July to early September

Despite what its name indicates, the Round the Mountain Trail doesn’t fully encircle Mount Adams. It’s nonetheless an engaging hike that connects with several other trails, including the iconic Pacific Crest Trail. Campers can access this beloved eastern Washington wildflower hike via the Mount Adams South Climb Trailhead, north of Trout Lake. Plan a break at Bird Creek Meadows, a major highlight with an abundant diversity of wildflowers including mountain bog gentian, Lewis’s monkeyflower, magenta paintbrush, bear grass, and Cascade bilberry. 

Skyline Trail Loop, Mount Rainier National Park

  • Route length: 5.7 miles
  • When to visit: Mid-July to mid-August

Home to the tallest mountain peak in Washington State, Mount Rainier National Park spans 236,000 acres of alpine glaciers and summertime wildflower meadows. Expect a significant elevation gain as you hike along Skyline Trail through subalpine and alpine meadows adorned with western Columbine—its long spurs and distinct red and yellow flowers attract pollinating hummingbirds in summer. Mount Rainier’s popular mountain trail also provides a kaleidoscope of purple lupine, yellow cinquefoils, and pink penstemon.

NPS/O’Casey

Cascade Pass Trail, North Cascades National Park

  • Route length: 11.6 miles
  • When to visit: Late July to early September

Follow Cascade River Road to the eastern end of North Cascades National Park (by the Johannesburg Campground) to access the Cascade Pass Trailhead. The out-and-back hiking route features several steep switchbacks that provide sweeping views of the old-growth forest and mountain glaciers. As you hike, watch for huckleberry flowers, mountain heather, Parry’s campion, red paintbrush, and globeflower. 

Leave it better: Wildflower camping in Washington State

With abundant rainfall and soaring mountain peaks, the Pacific Northwest is a terrific place for wildflower viewing come late spring and summer. As you explore wildflower meadows and colorfully adorned hillsides, remember to follow the principles of Leave No Trace. Don’t trample, pick, or crush the flowers. Instead, help conserve these amazing natural vistas for generations to come by sticking to designated trails and striving to #LeaveItBetter. 

More wildflower camping inspo

Michael Kwan is a freelance writer and content creator. Over his nearly two decades of experience, he has covered everything from consumer technology to travel and parenthood. A founding member of Five Dads Go Wild (#5DadsGoWild), Michael has written for POPSUGAR, Angi, Invest Surrey, Tourism Richmond, LoveToKnow Media, and British Columbia Mom. He has been featured by CBC News, Huffington Post, and The Good Men Project. Fueled by caffeine and wifi, Michael lives in Metro Vancouver with his wife and two children.

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